Controlling Seizures in Dogs with Ocular Compression

One of the ways to control seizures in dogs is with ocular compression. Ocular compression is a technique used to induce vagus nerve stimulation, and it has been used with success on many dogs. Drugs for controlling seizures, such as anticonvulsant medication, can cause adverse side effects such as liver damage. If you're looking for an alternative method of treatment, or antiepileptic drugs are not working, this procedure may benefit you and your dog.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Vagus nerve stimulation is a treatment in which a stimulus sends impulses to the vagus nerve in the neck. The vagus nerve is the tenth of twelve nerves that descend from the brain. This nerve is responsible for regulating control of certain chemicals which are important for healthy bodily and brain function. Vagus nerve stimulation can be achieved in a number of ways. Implants can be inserted which send electric impulses to the nerve. Manual techniques and maneuvers are also effective. In dogs, vagus nerve stimulation can be induced by ocular compression.

Ocular Compression

Ocular compression (OC) is an application of pressure to one or both eyes, either manually with the hands or by using a medical device. Manual maneuvers at home can be very effective at preventing seizures in dogs. The use of the OC technique has also been reported to shorten the length of seizures, as well as significantly reduce the adverse effects experienced after a seizure, such as confusion, disorientation and blindness.

The OC Technique for Treating Seizures in Dogs

In order to achieve the best results for using OC, you must establish a proper procedure for keeping the head stable and exerting the right amount of pressure to the eyes. If you are able to remain calm during the often traumatic event of a dog seizure, you should find this procedure to be quite simple.

  • Stabilize - First, you will need to stabilize the head. If the dog is already lying down, this may be easier. If not, you can either hold one hand under the dog's chin or cup the snout. Be sure that you don't block the dog's ability to breathe, as this can be very easy to do in the midst of a seizure.
  • Apply pressure - Once you've gotten the dog's head stabilized, apply pressure to the eyes. This is accomplished by closing the eyelids with your fingers or thumbs and applying firm, but gentle pressure. You should be able to use your own instincts to determine the amount of pressure to apply. It should be a little firmer than what it takes to read a pulse, but not so hard as to damage the eyes. Pressure should be applied for 5 to 8 seconds. This time period can be adjusted based upon your observation, or signals of stress from the dog.
  • Release and repeat - Release pressure for another 5 to 8 seconds. Again, this can be adjusted based upon your experience, and it may be beneficial to use irregular timing intervals. Begin the pressure cycle again, releasing and repeating in intervals of about 5 seconds until you sense the dog's relief from the seizure.